Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery on his elbow flexor tendon sometime in the next few weeks, The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel reports (subscription required). The procedure will keep Taillon out of action for roughly seven to nine months, so he could be back on the mound for Pittsburgh sometime in May if everything goes according to plan.
While Taillon faces a lengthy recovery period, it represents a more optimistic timeline than Tommy John surgery, which was the initial concern when Taillon was shut down with forearm pain last week. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like a TJ procedure (which would be Taillon’s second) is necessary, outside of “a small chance” more damage is found within Taillon’s elbow during the tendon surgery. Taillon’s elbow, however, appeared to be intact after being examined by Dr. David Altchek earlier this week; Altchek also performed Taillon’s original Tommy John surgery back in 2014.
Injuries have limited Taillon to just 37 1/3 innings this season, a disappointing follow-up to what seemed like a breakout year for the right-hander in 2018. Taillon posted a 3.20 ERA over 191 innings for the Pirates last year, and certainly seemed to be stepping up as the ace of Pittsburgh’s rotation. Hopes that Taillon would pitch again in 2019 were dashed by last week’s news, though it seems as if he’ll be able to return to active duty for at least most of the 2020 campaign. Tommy John surgery, of course, would have sidelined Taillon for 12-15 months, all but certainly keeping him on the injured list until 2021.
Taillon’s abbreviated 2019 campaign will obviously have a significant impact on his future salary, as he will be eligible for arbitration for the first of three times this offseason. He’ll still receive a big bump beyond the minimum salary, albeit much less than he would have earned if he’d been able to replicate his 2018 numbers this season.
The Pirates can go into their offseason plans with the expectation that Taillon will, for now, be back at the front of the rotation for much of 2020, though the team is likely still going to look into adding pitching (almost surely of the lower-cost variety) over the winter.